MUVE Viewer: Second Life Viewer V3
Second Life Viewer (v184.108.40.206931) — http://secondlife.com/support/downloads/
The Second Life Viewer is the official viewer for Second Life (as if the name didn’t give it away already) and encompasses support for all the new features that Linden Labs has added to Second Life over the years. Also not surprisingly it is developed by Linden Labs. The Linden Labs development team is obviously going to be huge as they should have the resources to be able to fund this effectively. As well as input from the ‘Lindens’ there is also credits toward third party developers from whom have developed some features for their respective viewers that Linden Labs has now adopted into the mainstream viewer.
As I have already mentioned the Second Life Viewer is the official viewer for Second Life and when you look at the list of available Second Life viewers (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Third_Party_Viewer_Directory) they list this viewer version as being the most stable out of all the ones available. However I’m not really sure that they would want you to think otherwise, so you should be the judge of that.
With this being the most up to date version of the ‘official’ viewer it of course has full compatibility with the importing and displaying of Mesh objects (http://wiki.secondlife.com/wiki/Mesh/What_is_mesh%3F). I decided to test out how mesh was displayed on this viewer; first impression was that it isn’t any different to what I saw in Phoenix viewer. It was only when I was only when I went into edit mode that I saw that it was displayed slightly differently there, I’m not really sure what the reason of this is though.
As well as this it has full compatibility with avatar physics (which was explained in the Phoenix viewer blog post here).
The first thing that I noticed when using the Second Life viewer was that every time I moved the objects, avatars and I would “glitch”. By this I mean that is that certain things would flicker out of proportion and then be ok again till I moved. I was certain that this was not supposed to be the default behaviour of the viewer and after some playing around with the settings I found that if I turned off the “Enable VBO” setting then this problem cleared up and the graphics once again become smooth.
The Second Life viewer uses a drop down menu upon the right click event as opposed to the older “pie” menu that was used in previous versions and some third party viewers. To me this seemed to suit the more traditional windows based interface and as such was reasonably easy to interact with. It also displays all the options within one menu, unlike the older pie menu’s “more” button.
What I did like initially was the smooth style of the Viewer. The design looks sleek and is visually appealing to the user. It is only one you start opening up menus that this changes.
Other than the right click drop down menu I wasn’t really much of a fan of the menu displays. To me it felt rather cluttered when you started to do more than one thing at a time (maybe worse for me since I like to see the frame rate and bandwidth all the time). But with the chat window open and the build menu and inventory open at the same time there becomes limited usable screen real-estate. One contributing factor to this is the addition of an address bar up the top in conjunction to the already existing menu bar. Why they didn’t just combine these into one I will never know. With this there is also a small menu bar down the bottom of the screen as well as on the left side, both containing different buttons with differing options. Though these are all fully customisable so I guess with a few tweaks you could make this viewer your own and have it suit your style of how you want to interact with the viewer and Second Life itself.
I will admit though my first experience with the official Second Life viewer was not all that good. This goes back to the class’s first experience within Second Life. While it wasn’t specifically the viewer’s fault it was hard to maintain a steady connection to the Second Life server. So each time I logged in soon after I would be kicked out of the viewer. This leads me to believe that this viewer is both bandwidth and graphics intensive, though this may not be a problem if you have a high end laptop/computer and a good internet connection. There is of course a fix to this, and that is to turn down a bunch of the graphics settings, though to me this isn’t really a fix as it leaves the user settling for something that isn’t visually desirable and not the way Second Life was meant to be displayed.
So really is this Viewer a good viewer? I would have to say yes. Despite some of its downfalls, it does everything you need it to do plus more. And when using this viewer at home without the campus bandwidth problems I am able to maintain a stable session and to not be kicked off every couple of minutes. So I think that after some customisations the screen real-estate issue could be resolved and I think that I could really come to like this viewer.
So the ultimate question…. Would I recommend this viewer to other Second Life users?.. The answer is .. Maybe.. All depending on their computer specifications, internet connection and how they want to use and interact with the Second Life world.